Friday, September 24, 2010

Nighthawks Give Omaha a Game Worthy of the Buildup

The Omaha Nighthawks debuted tonight in front of a packed crowd at Rosenblatt Stadium, defeating Hartford 27-26 on a fourth down touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to Robert Ferguson with seven seconds left in the game. Needless to say, tonight's game lived up to all the buildup for professional football in Omaha.  Sad to say, I missed the dramatic ending; my son tried to make it into the fourth quarter, but we finally had to head out as Hartford drove the field late in the fourth quarter.

So what were my impressions of the UFL? It was a little ragged early on, but you can tell this these are some quality players on the field.  You also see little things that keep talented players out of the NFL.  Omaha's first touchdown drive of the fourth quarter was kept alive by two personal foul penalties that, quite frankly, might have been homer calls. A late hit on Ferguson turned a fourth down incompletion into a first down; shouldn't that dead ball penalty be enforced after the change of possession? A few plays later, a somewhat generous roughing the passer penalty negated a Jeff Garcia interception deep in Hartford territory and set up a touchdown that pulled the Nighthawks within three.

With the Nighthawks, both lines seem to be the weakest links on the team. Most of the evening, Ahman Green and Garcia were under pressure in their own backfield.  Ferguson had the winning catch, but the offensive player of the game to me was wide receiver Devard Darling, a former third round draft pick out of Washington State.  He seemed to be the clutch receiver that Garcia looked for most often in the first fifty minutes.  Hartford quarterback Josh McCown was pretty much unstoppable, though for some reason, Hartford periodically brought in Ryan Perrilloux, who seemed to be the less effective of the two.  Other than former Oklahoma defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, I didn't see much out of the Omaha defense.

As for the atmosphere, things really started to roll in the fourth quarter as the crowd and the Nighthawks both picked up the action.  The field at Rosenblatt really seemed to take a beating, necessitating frequent visits from the grounds crew to tamp the sod back into place during most every time out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the sightlines from my "end zone" seats along the third base line.  I didn't much care for the music between plays, not to mention the halftime concert by Nelly.  I estimate about 8,000-10,000 of the crowd absolutely loved the halftime concert, with a few hundred forgoing the game in the second quarter to head out to center field in front of the stage.  The majority of the crowd could be described as disinterested at best.  Otis Day will be next weekends's halftime act, which probably will both annoy and please fewer people.  (Why do I have this feeling that people are going to show up in black toga's for next week's game?)  Rosenblatt's tight concourses and lack of facilities were obvious with a huge crowd, though lines seemed to move faster than the last Royals game I attended.  Go figure.

All in all, it'll be interesting to see how Omaha responds to the Nighthawks going forward. Tickets are reasonable and the competition is pretty good. I have no doubt that the Nighthawks will go as far as the UFL goes; the only question is whether Omaha can pull the entire league up to viability.

6 comments:

Count Istvan said...

My Nephew and I had an absolute blast at the game. I hope that the UFL can find a way to last a few years at least. I know the shelf life for these leagues is not great. BTW totally agree with you on the music but the overall experience was fantastic.

Aaron said...

I am such a procrastinator. I'm one of the guys who put off buying tickets to the opener, and now I got egg on my face. But overall I'm just so happy it went off without a hitch and we got the win.

Anonymous said...

same concessions as CWS, Royals, or Creighton, why digging on the speed of the lines Mike? Have a beef with Royals?

It was a good night other than the over-the-top drunks.

Husker Mike said...

Not so much the Royals as Rosenblatt in general; TD Ameritrade should be able to handle crowds of this size much better than the 'Blatt. But I just found it curious that the lines went smoother with a sellout crowd last night than with a smaller crowd in May.

Jacob Hainline said...

Great post!
If I can, I'd like to give a shout out to my Nighthawks blog:
http://blog.nighthawksinsider.com
Come check us out...

Anonymous said...

Dusty Dvorack looked great. He is a tough dude